Belarus will not hesitate to use nukes if aggressed: Lukashenko

Minsk is set to host Russian tactical nuclear weapons in several days, says the Belarusian leader.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin walk during a recent meeting at the Bocharov Ruchey residence in Sochi, Russia [Sputnik/Pavel Bednyakov/Kremlin via Reuters]

Russian tactical nuclear weapons will be deployed in Belarus in “several days”, said President Alexander Lukashenko, according to Belarusian state media.

Lukashenko said on Tuesday that Minsk was ready to host the arms, days after Russian President Vladimir Putin said the weapons would be deployed July 7-8.

“Everything is ready. I think we will have what we asked for in a few days, and even a little bit more,” he said in comments cited by the Belta news agency on Tuesday.

Lukashenko warned he would not hesitate to use the weapons in response to potential aggressors.

“Why do we need them? To make sure not a single foreign soldier sets their foot on the Belarusian land again,” he said.

“God forbid that I have to make a decision to use these weapons. But there will be no hesitation in the event of an aggression against us.”

This marks the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union that Moscow has moved warheads outside of the country.

Putin has cast the war in Ukraine as a battle between Russia’s safety and the expanding NATO alliance and has said that the West is pumping weapons to Ukraine in a proxy war with Moscow.

In March, he announced the decision to move the weapons to Belarus, a launching pad for Moscow’s “special military operation”, pointing to the deployment of US weapons in European countries as a justification.

While the United States condemned the plan, it says it has no intention of changing its stance on strategic nuclear weapons and has not seen any signs that Russia is preparing to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Lukashenko said Minsk was also working to ensure Belarusian facilities could host longer-range strategic weapons. However, there was no urgent need as Moscow had yet to speak of supplying the weapons, he said.

“What do I need strategic [missiles] like the Topols for? Although we are now preparing sites for these weapons as well. They [the Soviet-era sites] are all alive and well, except for one. So if we need to, we can at any moment [house them],” Belta cited Lukashenko as saying.

“But the Topol is an intercontinental missile. Am I planning to go to war with America? No. that’s why this [tactical nuclear weapons] are enough for me now,” he said.

The war in Ukraine has led to what both Russia and the US say is their most tense relationship since the Cold War.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies